NeuroVive Pharmaceutical has signed a collaboration agreement with Isomerase Therapeutics to develop cyclophilin-inhibiting molecules from a portfolio it acquired in March from Biotica. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Following the Biotica acquisition, three members of its senior management spun out Isomerase, which will join NeuroVive in studying the portfolio. The partners will initially focus on the sangamide-based cyclophilin inhibitor NVP018/BC556 for antiviral indications; as well as study cellular protection for traumatic brain injury and heart attack, Neurovive said.

“Development work will begin during the summer,” NeuroVive said in a statement.

Founded in 2000, publicly traded NeuroVive focuses on developing new treatments for acute cardiovascular and neurological conditions. NeuroVive’s drug development effort is based on cyclosporine, which acts as a cyclophilin inhibitor for mitochondrial protection. By protecting a cell’s mitochondria, NeuroVive’s products aim to preserve cellular energy production as well as repair and maintain damaged cells through normal regenerative mechanisms.

NeuroVive’s lead product candidates, CicloMulsion® and NeuroSTAT®, are designed to limit secondary tissue damage by preventing the destruction of mitochondria in distressed cells, and the subsequent chain of intracellular biochemical events that lead to cell death.

CicloMulsion, the first cyclophilin inhibitor for reperfusion injury, is the subject of the Phase III CIRCUS study, a European, multi-center trial of 972 patients undergoing stenting following acute myocardial infarction. CIRCUS will compare CicloMulsion to placebo in ability to protect cardiac tissue and improve clinical outcome, with results expected in 2015. NeuroSTAT, the first cyclophilin inhibitor for TBI, has orphan drug status in Europe and the U.S. for treatment of moderate to severe TBI. NeuroSTAT is entering a European Phase IIa clinical trial, results of which are expected to be reported in 2014–2015.

Isomerase was founded by the scientific team that invented BC556 and several related molecules, namely three members of Biotica’s former senior management team including its former CSO Barrie Wilkinson. The company uses a combination of biosynthetic engineering and complimentary semi-synthetic chemistry in order to create new drugs. Specifically, it optimizes microbial natural products in order to improve various properties, including selectivity, reducing toxicity, improving ADME profile, altering route of administration, and improving potency.

“We are in a great position to help them take forward what we believe could become ground-breaking therapies in a number of high-value indications,” Isomerase said in a separate statement issued earlier this month.

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